Get with the program, people

Check it out:

An interview I conducted with UCLA English Professor Mark McGurl has just been released in this month’s Believer magazine. The original interview was fairly far-reaching and lively, but has here been shortened to a still-lively-even-if-slightly-less-far-reaching “micro-interview,” spread through the May issue.

When you’re done reading the interview, do also check out Mark’s excellent new book, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing, which is sure to rearrange the mental furniture of scholars and critics of postwar American fiction, perhaps even installing a new sofa couch or two.

But don’t be put off by all that. The book is also quite readable and engaging in a public intellectual sort of way. The book actually partly helped dampen some of my prejudices and stereotyped impressions about MFA programs, which I avoided, assuming falsely that they were all homogeneously dedicated to the reproduction of minimalist realism.

Not that I don’t love minimialist realism, but it’s just not what I wanted to do as a writer. Little did I know!